Yesterday, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton announced on Fox News his belief that "the use of military force" against Iranian training camps "is really the most prudent thing to do." Responding to a Telegraph report on his comments today, American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Ledeen declared that Bolton is "right." Adding that he's "been proposing this for years," Ledeen also said that "we should do the same thing to the Syrian camps as well."
One of the things that I've found most frightening over the past eight years is that the American government is in the hands of a cabal of neoConservative thugs who have absolutely no problem with projecting American military power anywhere in the world if it serves their purpose. That military action is regarded as some sort of abstract academic exercise should scare the Hell out of anyone who has a loved one wearing a uniform. The idea the geopolitics is a zero-sum game, the results of which can and should be enforced through fear, intimidation, and violence should be abhorrent to any reasonable person. Then again, neoCons like Ledeen have no emotional investment in this fight. It's by and large the children of the middle class that are doing the fighting and dying called for by rich, White, neoCons.
Just as long as it's someone else's kid doing the fighting and dying, eh?
And it's not as if people like Michael Ledeen have a positive vision for this country and its role in the international community. No, apparently being the being swinging dick on the block is more than sufficient- which makes sense if you believe that in diplomatic terms it's far better to be feared than loved. The problem with that mindset, though, begins with the assumption that love and fear are, and must be, mutually exclusive. Having travelled overseas fairly extensively, I understand that America's success and prosperity is often necessary and sufficient to hate, or at the very least resent, all things American. Historically, American foreign aid has existed at least in part to dispel the notion that Americans are acquistive, self-absorbed greedheads who care only for increasing their material possessions. By giving of ourselves, at least some parts of the world have come to understand that Americans are not all related to Gordon Gecko.
And there are soulless neoCons like Michael Ledeen, who go to sleep each night chanting Machiavelli and awaken each morning humming Josef Goebbels. And you wonder why America is reviled worldwide? This is why I've identified myself as Canadian (yeah, I can pass, eh?) until I can determine that identifying as American won't place me at risk.
I understand the calculus of international geopolitics as well as the next person, but I also recognize that, when the subject of bombing Iran, Syria, or West Virginia comes to the fore, it's no mere intellectual/academic exercise. Engaging in this sort of Divinely-sanctioned military adventurism means committing American lives to the pursuit of Clausewitz' "foreign policy by other means". Hey, as long as someone else's loved one is doing the fighting and dying....
Here's a rather twisted analogy I've managed to avoid until now, but there is more than a grain of truth to it: war really is like sex in some respects. You can only remain horizontal for so long; eventually you have to be able to talk to your partner...or you really don't have much of a relationship. When it comes to war, there also comes a time when you have to try to talk to your adversary. War may present a temporary solution to a long-term problem, but it's not going to provide relief over the long haul. Refusing to engage in meaningful dialogue only increases the likelihood of having to commit young American lives to a geopolitical problem that can only be effectively addressed diplomatically.
Then again, who needs to talk when you can just bomb a country back into the Stone Age, pave it, and turn it into a parking lot for a WalMart??